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★ AUG 2 1 192b 


"DEANS and their close relatives are among the 
most useful and most valuable of agricultural 
crop plants. The diversity among the various repre- 
sentatives of this group makes it possible to grow 
some one of them over a wide area of the earth's 
surface and under greatly varying climatic condi- 

Dry beans of both the kidney and Lima types pro- 
vide an important food supply. Cowpeas and soy 
beans are important food plants, but are even more 
important forage and soil-improving crops. 

Beans in variety make an important annual con- 
tribution to the vegetable garden and to the supply 
of canned vegetables. 

Washington, D. G . Issued April, 1907; revised February, 1923 



By L. C. Coebett, Horticulturist in Charge, Office of Horticultural Investiga- 
tions, Bureau of Plant Industry. 



Types of beans 2 

Field and garden groups . 3 

Acreage grown 3 


Field beans 5 

Garden beans 10 

Diseases and enemies . 18 


The bean belongs to one of the most important families of economic plants 
with which man has to deal. While there is a great variety of plants belonging 
to the pulse family, of which the bean is a member, varying in size from low 
annual plants to tall, broad, spreading trees, there are few members of this 
group which possess greater economic importance than does the bean. Besides 
furnishing wholesome, nourishing food for man and for animals, this group of 
plants provides the agriculturist with a means of securing from the great store 
of nitrogen in the air, by the use of one of its members in the crop rotation 
of his farm, a sufficient quantity of nitrogen to replenish that taken from the 
soil by other agricultural crops. Not all leguminous plants provide food for 
both man and beast and at the same time increase the fertility of the soil 
upon which they grow. The bean, however, is one of those which has this 
capability. It is therefore one of the most desirable crops to use in the farm 
rotation, as well as in market-garden work. 

While the value of beans and peas of various kinds as food for man and 
stock has been known for many generations, it is within the memory of men 
now living that the value of these crops as soil renovators and fertility 
restorers has been definitely proved. Since these facts have become known the 
value of such crops is being more and more appreciated, and their cultivation, 
as a result, very greatly extended. 

Perhaps no single agricultural crop is of greater economic importance to 
the people of the United States than cowpeas, yet its cultivation is compara- 
tively recent in this country. Each year the crop is better appreciated, and 
its area is being rapidly extended. While the cowpea is not a true bean it is 
a valuable forage crop and a great soil renovator. The seeds are valuable as 
grain, the hay is equaled only by alfalfa, and as a producer of organic matter 
for green manuring it is unsurpassed. 

The member of this great family with which we have at this time to deal— 
the bean — is not so valuable from the standpoint of forage or soil renovation, 
but is among the most valuable members of the great group for the seed which 
it produces. While the seed is the most important and valuable factor, the 
power to gather nitrogen and to render the soil better for having been grown 
upon it is an important consideration and one which should not be overlooked 
by those interested in maintaining the nitrogen content of the soil. 



Farmers' Bulletin 289. 


Under the general term " bean " there are no less than eight distinct species 
of plants, native to nearly as many distinct sections of the surface of the 
earth. These eight closely allied plants, descriptions of which follow, are quite 
universally spoken of as beans, and are deserving of mention in this connection, 
although not all of them are treated as are the common beans, which is the 
primary subject of this bulletin. 

Broad beans. — The Broad bean (Vicia faba) is one of the oldest members of 
the group of leguminous plants so far as the records of profane history hold 
information concerning such plants. It is, however, of minor importance 
within the confines of the United States, although it is a valuable garden as 
well as agricultural crop in Canada and most European countries. Upon the 
continent of North America its cultivation is chiefly confined to the Dominion 
of Canada, where it is grown as a garden crop and as a companion to corn 
for silage purposes. This plant requires a long, cool summer, and because of 
the intense heat and protracted periods of drought characteristic of most quar- 
ters of the United States it does not thrive in this country. 

Kidney, or Haricot, beans. — Kidney beans, known also as Haricot beans, and 
technically as Phaseolus vulgaris, are the common field and garden beans of 
America. They also enjoy the distinction, so far as records carry evidence 
upon this point, of being native to the New World. It is the cultivation and 
uses of this class which are to claim our attention in the present publication. 

Lima, or Sugar, beans. — The plants of Lima, or Sugar, beans (Phaseolus 
lunatus) are normally rank-growing climbers, although within recent times 
a dwarf, nonclimbing variety has been developed. They thrive best on strong, 
well-enriched lands and under tropical or subtropical conditions. 

Dolichos beans. — Two familiar examples of the Dolichos group of beans, 
which differ slightly from the common beans, are known as the Hyacinth 
bean and the Asparagus, or French Yard-Long, bean. 

Soy beans. — The soy, or soja, bean (Glycine hispida), kno,wn and appre- 
ciated for generations in Japan, has attained importance in the United 
States only within the last decade or two. According to available figures, 
the area annually devoted to the crop in the United States is about 200,000 
acres, with a production of approximately 3,000,000 bushels, worth about 
$6,000,000 to the farmers growing them. It is much grown as a forage and 
a soil-improving crop and for the dry beans. The soy bean is an important 
ingredient in many animal feeds and a very good article of human food. 

Scarlet Runner beans. — The Scarlet Runner bean (Phaseolus multiflorus) 
is a strong-growing climbing plant, used for decorative purposes on account 
of its clusters of bright blossoms, which give it an ornamental value of no 
mean significance. 

Velvet, or Banana, beans. — The Velvet, or Banana, bean (Mucuna utilis) is 
one of the most exacting members of the bean family as regards temperature, 
and as a result in the United States it can only be grown successfully within 
comparatively narrow limits. In Florida and along the Gulf coast it has in 
recent years become an important forage as well as green-manuring crop. 
In those sections of the United States where it can be successfully grown it 
is a worthy competitor of the cowpea and soy bean. 

Cowpeas. — The cowpea (Vigna sinensis), because of its beanlike seed and 
habit of growth, its great economic importance as a forage crop for the pro- 
duction of hay and silage, and its great value as a green manure, should be 
mentioned in connection with the other plants to which it is so closely related 
both botanically and economically. 




For convenience in reference and for discussion, beans may be divided into 
two general groups — "field" and "garden" beans — which are by no means 
distinctly separate either in appearance or. in characteristics. Each of these 
groups can again be divided into bush and pole beans. Bush beans of the field 
type are recognized, for commercial purposes, under three well-marked types, 
known as Kidney, Marrow, and Pea beans, each of which may be subdivided 
into two groups, colored and white. The garden beans, like the field beans, 
may be divided into bush and pole types ; these again into Kidneys and Limas, 
the term "Kidney" in this case including all of the common garden beans 
whether of one type or another, and this group may again be divided into wax 
and green pod. The same subdivision may also be recorded under pole beans, 
as is suggested in the following classification : 

Classification of beans according to groups and types. 

Field beans _ 


Garden beans. 

Pole or corn hill- 
Bush _-- 


T ~, /Colored. 

Kidney --\ White. 


Marrow \ White. 

-d /Colored. 

Pea \ White. 

White or colored. 

jKidney --{creen pod. 


JKidney {JJ^ po(L 

| Lima. 

(Runner (Scarlet Runner). 


According to the 1919 census, the area devoted to growing snap or green 
beans in the United States was 71,970 acres. The crop had a farm value of 
$8,031,449. Florida has 8,522 acres, New York 6,628, New Jersey 6,091, 
Maryland 5,187, and California 4,126, with Kentucky, Virginia, Wisconsin, 
and Pennsylvania each devoting 2,500 acres or more to the crop. The dis- 
position made of the green or snap bean crop is not shown by the census, but 
according to figures prepared by the United States Food Administration, 
based on the Canning Trade Almanac, the area contracted for in 1919 by the 
canners was 11,280 acres, which produced 24,683 tons. 

It is well known that the snap-bean crops of Florida, Maryland, Virginia, 
and other South Atlantic Coast States do not enter into the canning trade, 
but are largely used as green vegetables. Deducting from the general acreage 
that contracted for by the canners, there are left approximately 60,000 acres 
to be disposed of as fresh vegetables. 

According to the 1919 census, 1,161,682 acres were devoted to the produc- 
tion of dry edible beans, with a total yield of 14,001,293 bushels, valued at 
$61,785,325. The geographical distribution of the crop is clearly presented on 
the' map (fig. 1). Each dot indicates a production of 1,000 to 20,000 bushels 
per county. Each additional dot in a county represents an increased produc- 
tion of 20,000 bushels. The map shows the influence of climate in determin- 
ing the regions to which the crop is adapted. 

Farmers' Bulletin 289. 

As above stated, the bean crop contributes something over $61,500,000 to the 
wealth of the Nation. Of this, California receives more than half, $31 000 000 • 
Michigan, a little more than one-fourth, $17,000,000; while the other one-fourth 
is chiefly divided between New York, New Mexico, Colorado, and Idaho, each 
of which receives from $1,000,000 to $3,000,000 from this source. 

In many areas beans have become as much a staple crop as was wheat a 
quarter of a century ago. From an economic standpoint this is a valuable 
addition to the farm rotation of the region because of the ability of this crop 
to improve the land upn which it is grown. If for no other reason than this 
the bean crop taking the place of wheat in the rotation would be an advantage 
to the community. Of late years, however, the bean crop has been a more 
remunerative crop than wheat, which adds a pecuniary reason for growing the 
crop to the soil-improving value previously rioted. 

Fig. 1.— Map of the United States showing where string beans are commercially grown. 

While the distribution of field beans is to a very considerable extent deter- 
mined by soil and climate, the production of garden beans is not so emphatically 
influenced by these factors. The quick growth of garden beans enables the 
truck farmer and the market gardener to take advantage of that portion of 
the year when the climate of the region is most congenial to the production of 
the crop, and for this reason the demands of the market as well as the location 
of the grower determine largely the area of garden beans to be grown in any 
particular locality. Shipping facilities, of course, have as marked an influence 
upon the distribution of garden beans for early market as upon any other truck 

A third rale in which beans play an important part is that of a product for 
the canning factory. The production of fresh beans for canning purposes con- 
forms more closely to the area in which field beans are produced than to that 
where garden beans, are grown for early market 

From what has been said, it is evident that there are two important divisions 
of the bean industry in the United States, namely, the production of field or 



dry beans and tlie production of garden beans. The latter involves two indus- 
tries: (1) The growing of beans for early market, and (2) the raising of 
string or snap beans for use by the canning factories. 


Reference to the map (fig. 1) giving the distribution of the areas in which 
beans are commercially cultivated shows that the regions in which the cultiva- 
tion of this crop is most intensive lie chiefiy within the areas covered by the 
glacial drift of the great ice age. The soils of the area are as a rule strong 
and retentive, carrying large quantities of lime and considerable potash, phos- 
phoric acid, and organic materials. It is not strange, therefore, that a crop 

Fig. 2. — A typical bean field in the North. 

which is able to gather nitrogen from the air should thrive well upon soils 
having an abundant store of phosphoric acid and potash. 

While beans produce ambundantly upon strong clay soils, yet the clay loams, 
shales, and gravelly soils of the drift region are better adapted to the produc- 
tion of this crop than are the heavy clays. The growth of vine is to much 
restricted upon the very heavy clay soils, and while in proportion to its growth 
the vines yield well, the total product is in proportion to the growth of the 
plant as a whole. Figure 2 shows a typical bean field in the North. 


Since the bean is a warm-season crop and can not safely be planted until 
after danger from killing frost has passed, the preparation of the soil for field 
beans should be deferred until the vegetation covering the area has made con- 
siderable growth, so that it may be as completely destroyed as possible during 


Farmers* Bulletin %89. 

the operations of plowing, harrowing, and fitting the land for the reception of 
the seed. The short-season character of the bean crop enables the land to be 
occupied during the winter months by some cover crop, such as wheat or rye 
and if the same land is used year after year for the production of beans the 
turning under of winter cover crops furnishes an important means Tby which 
the store of organic matter in the soil can be maintained, a consideration of 
great moment in sections chiefly dependent upon commercial fertilizers as a 
source for available plant food. 

After the land has attained proper dryness in the spring it should be 
plowed from 6 to 8 inches in depth, and immediately compacted and harrowed 
so as to prevent the loss of moisture. The surface of the seed bed should be 
made smooth and fine, so that the drill or planter can be economically used 
upon it. If dry weather follows at this season of the year, a good practice 
is, immediately preceding the planting of the crop, to run a heavy land 
roller over the area, particularly if the planting is done with an ordinary 
gram drill. If the planting is done with a planter similar to the ordinary 
corn planter and the land has been rolled previously, it is advisable to go 
over it with a spike-tooth harrow or some other type of smoothing harrow 
after the crop has been planted, in order that the land may not possess a 
compacted condition from the substratum to the surface. The surface mulch 
which is produced by the use of the smoothing harrow after rolling arid 
planting, leaves the soil in the most desirable condition. 


It has already been suggested that field beans should not be planted until 
all danger from injury by frost has passed. In fact, growers have found 
that it is better, to. postpone planting the crop until as late in the season as is 
practicable and yet be able to safely harvest the crop before the vines are 
injured by fall frost. The late planted crop has the advantage of escaping 
the most serious attacks of the 'bean rust. While there are undoubtedly 
varieties which are more or less resistant to this trouble, yet the general 
practice of late planting has been found to be of decided advantage. 

In planting the field crop the distance between the rows varies from 28 to 
36 inches, according to the implements used in harvesting the crop 30 inches 
being a very satisfactory and not an unusual distance for placing the rows 
The seeds are so scattered as to fall from 2 to 4 inches apart in the row 
The ideal distance would be undoubtedly 6 inches, if it were possible to obtain 
a perfect stand of plants at this distance. Experiments conducted by the 
writer and by other investigators have clearly demonstrated that beans planted 
singly in the row at intervals of from 4 to 6 inches apart produce a much 
more abundant crop than the same quantity of seed planted in hills from 18 
inches to 3 feet apart. For distributing the seed in the row at these distances 
a bean planter or a check row corn planter may be set to drop the seeds in 
drills. A common practice is to use an ordinary grain drill and stop a suffi- 
cient number of tubes to enable two or three rows of beans to be planted 
at the proper distance apart without the necessity of purchasing a special 
implement. By the use of range poles and a 9-tooth drill spaced 8 inches 
three rows of beans can be planted each time the field is crossed, leaving the 
rows 32 inches apart. An 11-tooth drill can be arranged to plant three rows 
of beans 32 inches apart, if the teeth of the drill are spaced 8 inches, by 
driving the wheel in the preceding wheel mark on each return trip. 



Those contemplating the purchase of implements for different uses should 
carefully study the adaptability of the implements to the work desired. It 
will readily be seen that an 11-tooth drill arranged to plant three rows 32 
inches apart will be a much more convenient implement than a 9-tooth drill 
similarly spaced, as the larger implement does away with the necessity for 
using range poles. 

Quantity of seed necessary. — The quantity of seed required to plant an acre 
of beans varies with the size of the beans; that is, a half -bushel of small 
Pea beans is sufficient to plant an acre of ground, while a bushel of Red 
Kidney beans is hardly sufficient to plant an acre when the seed is distributed 
in the ordinary fashion in drills rather than in hills. In planting beans of the 
Pea and Marrow types the quantity of seed varies from one-half to a bushel 
per acre, depending upon the quality of the beans and upon the preferences 
of the planter. For Kidney beans the quantity varies from a bushel to as 
much as six pecks per acre. Ordinarily, with rows 30 inches apart, a bushel 
is a sufficient quantity for seeding an acre. 

Depth of planting. — The depth at which beans should be planted is deter- 
mined by the character of the soil and the season of the year at which they 
are planted. In heavy, retentive soils planting should be made comparatively 
shallow, as the peculiar habit of growth of the bean is such that it can not 
readily reach the surface if planted deep in such soils. Upon light soils and 
early in the season planting can be made quite deep. Three inches is not too 
deep upon such soils, but an inch and a half or 2 inches is the maximum depth 
for planting upon retentive soils. The cowpea is possibly more exacting in re- 
gard to the depth of planting than the field bean, the stalk of the young cowpea 
being more slender and less able to force the seed leaves through any crust of 
earth that may have formed after planting. All things considered, a satis- 
factory depth for planting beans is about 1£ inches. 


Like all other hoe crops field beans require frequent, shallow cultivation. 
The stirring of the soil for the purpose of holding the weeds in check and pre- 
serving a soil mulch over the area occupied by the growing crop is the im- 
portant factor to be considered in culture. Implements with narrow blades 
which stir the soil to a depth of between 2 and 3 inches are most desirable. 
Those designed for the culture of corn, which are provided with narrow blades 
such as accompany all implements provided with spring teeth attachments, 
will be found satisfactory for the cultivation of beans. 

At the last cultivation the plants may be slightly hilled; that is, the soil 
may be thrown toward the plants with small wings. This has the advantage 
of leaving the plants on a slight ridge, which facilitates the work of har- 
vesting when such work is done by mechanical means. In the cultivation of 
beans it is traditional that they should not be cultivated when the dew is on 
the vines. This undoubtedly has a slight foundation for the reason that mois- 
ture is a conveyor of spores of disease and might have a tendency to dis- 
tribute them more widely than would be the case if moisture were allowed to 
dry off the leaves without being disturbed. 


For many years the handling of hoe crops, such as field beans, upon an ex- 
tensive scale was impossible because of the great amount of hand labor neces- 
79528°— 24- 2 


Farmers' Bulletin 289. 

sary to gather the crop. Within recent years, however, labor-saving devices 
have been invented so that now the once laborious practice of hand-pulling 
individual plants can be done away with by the use of a bean harvester. 

This implement is built on the principle of a pair of shears and consists 
of two long steel blades mounted upon a strong framework carried upon wheels, 
as illustrated in Figure 3. The long shearlike blades are set to cut the roots 
of the plants just beneath the surface of the ground. Above these blades guard 
rods or guide rods are so arranged as to move from their original positions 
the plants whose roots have been severed, and, since the implement is designed 
to cut two rows of beans across the field, the plants of two rows are thrown 
together in a single windrow. This clears a space for the passage of one of 
the animals in the team, so that it is necessary for only one to* pass through 
the standing crop, thus decreasing the amount of loss by shelling which would 
result from both animals being driven through the standing crop. 

After the plants are thrown together by the harvester, as shown in Figure 
4, it is customary for men with ordinary pitchforks, either 2 or 3 tined, to 
follow the harvester and place the beans in small heaps, to cure for several 

field and where the work of harvesting is done entirely by hand, the crop 
is frequently placed in shocks which are built about a pole 4 or' 5 feet in 
height, both ends of which have been sharpened and one end firmly placed 
in the ground. A small quantity of straw, grass, or other material is placed 
around the base of the stake, and the beans as they are pulled are piled 
around the pole until a compact miniature stack about 4 or 5 feet high is 
formed, as shown in Figure 5. This operation is very similar to the com- 
mon practice followed by the growers of peanuts in stacking and curing 
this crop. The curing process in any case is carried far enough to prevent 
the vines molding after storing them in the barn prior to threshing. If the vines 
are thoroughly ripened in the field before harvesting, they can be stored in 
from two to three days if the weather is satisfactory. If, however, the 
vines have some green leaves upon them and the pods are not thoroughly 
dry, the period for curing in the field is of necessity much longer than with 
thoroughly ripened plants. 

After the crop has been properly cured in the field it is customary to store 
the beans in barn lofts or in sheds until the weather has become quite cool 
before the work of threshing is done. In some instances, however, if the beans 
are thoroughly field cured they may be threshed in the field; but ordinarily, 

days before storing them 
in barns or sheds for 
threshing. In some in- 
stances, where the work 
is done upon a very ex- 
tensive scale and where 
the loss from shelling is 
not considered sufficient 
to justify the employment 
of hand labor for bunch- 
ing the beans with forks, 
an ordinary horserake is 
employed for the purpose. 

Fig. 3. — A bean harvester. 

Where the beans are to 
remain for a longer pe- 
riod and to become more 
thoroughly cured in the 



in those regions where beans are extensively grown, weather conditions will 
not permit of their being cured and left in the field a sufficient period to enable 
the entire work of harvesting and threshing to be carried on in the open. 

After the plants are thoroughly cured they are carried as carefully as possible 
to the building in which they are to be stored. In fact, all operations connected 
with the harvesting and field management of beans should be done as carefully 
as possible, in order to avoid injury to the plants while in the growing condi- 
tion and to prevent shelling the beans after they have ripened. Most varieties 
of beans shell more or less easily after the pods have become thoroughly ma- 
tured. The loss from shelling will depend largely upon the care in handling 
them during the various operations of harvesting and storing. Most extensive 
growers of beans, however, consider the loss by shelling resulting from the 
use of labor-saving machinery of less money value than the added cost of 

Pig. 4.— A bean harvester at work. 

carrying on all operations by hand in the most careful way. In other words, 
the loss from the use of labor-saving machinery is not sufficient to justify the 
return to hand labor in the care and management of the crop. 


Because of the ease with which the pods of the bean are broken and split 
and the danger of breaking and splitting the seed of the bean, the operation 
of threshing is one of the most exacting connected with the production of dry 
beans. In olden times beans were threshed almost exclusively by the use of 
the flail, and small crops are still handled in this way. On an extensive scale, 
however, means are threshed by machinery specially designed for the work. 
The ordinary grain thresher can not be modified so as to satisfactorily do the 
work, although it is sometimes employed when other specially designed ma- 
chinery can not be obtained. 


Farmers" Bulletin 289. 

The modern bean thresher, a section of which is shown in Figure 6, consists 
in reality of a double, or tandem, threshing machine, carrying one cylinder 
which is operated at a comparatively low rate of speed and a second cylinder 
run at a much higher speed. The slow cylinder, which is the first, separates 
the beans from the dry pods. The vines, with the tougher pods, are then 
passed on to the second cylinder, which is operated at a much higher rate of 
speed and is better equipped to separate the beans from the pods which are 
tough and more retentive. By this arrangement there is less injury to the seed 
and consequently less loss both from splitting the beans and from passing over 
beans in tough pods, which would be the result of threshing with a single 
cylinder machino operating the cylinder at a low rate of speed. 


While the farm operations in connection with the preparation of field beans 
for market usually cease with the threshing of the crop, the cleaning and 
grading of the product is a very important item and requires much hand- 
work. Besides the removal of sticks and straws from the grain by the use 
of the fan, the beans are passed through a machine which is provided with a 

broad, slow - moving 
belt placed at such 
an angle that split 
beans and peas, dirt, 
and stones which are 
not removed by the 
fan adhere to the felt 
and are thrown out, 
while the smooth, 
perfect seeds fall 
back into another re- 
ceptacle and are thus 
separated from the 
dirt and broken seeds. 
After this the beans 
are usually subjected to a third operation, which consists in removing by hand 
all broken and discolored seeds, as well as foreign matter, which were not 
removed in the other operations. The work of hand picking is chiefly carried 
on by women, and is facilitated by the use of machines operated by the feet 
or some other motive power. In large picking establishments these machines 
are arranged in rows, fed through hoppers, and operated by steam or other 
power. In smaller establishments and upon farms, similarly constructed 
machines operated by foot power are employed. 

These machines are very simple in construction, consisting of a canvas belt 
about 6 inches wide passing over rollers, which are operated, as already in- 
dicated, either by power or by a foot pedal. The beans which are in the 
hopper are shaken out upon the canvas belt, and as the belt is carried along 
the expert picker removes all discolored or broken seeds and foreign matter, 
dropping them into side receptacles having spouts which carry them into 
barrels or baskets, from which they can be easily removed. The good beans are 
allowed to fall over the end of the belt into another hopper and are conducted 
to a convenient receptacle. 


As has been previously pointed out, garden beans naturally fall into two 
distinct classes, namely, bush and pole beans. Each of these general classes 

Fig. 5. — Hand-pulled beans stacked to cure. 


is again subdivided into Kidney and Lima beans. The Kidney beans of the 
bush type are either wax podded or green podded in character, as are also 
the pole beans of this class. Lima beans, as is indicated in the classification 
on page 16, are either of the bush or pole type. Among the garden beans, 
therefore, there are bush and pole types of the Kidney bean which may be 
either green or wax podded ; and of the Lima beans there are bush and pole 
types. The character of the so-called Lima beans varies considerably, but 
chiefly in the character of the seed itself and in the habit of growth of the 
plant. These differences will be discussed briefly under the topic of Lima 

The type as well as the variety of garden bean to be grown is determined 
by the purpose for which it is to be used. If it is to be used as a snap or string 
bean for early market, quick-maturing green or wax-podded varieties are 
selected. If for canning purposes, a different variety is selected, which may 
have either green or wax pods, while as a rule green beans which are re- 
quired late in the season for table use belong to the pole type. For early 
beans, however, the bush type is the one most commonly used. 

Fig. 6. — A bean thresher. 

It is to be regretted that there are no available statistics giving the acreage, 
yield, and value of garden beans. The map shown as Figure 7 gives the geo- 
graphical distribution of this industry. The range and extent of the culti- 
vation of this crop are coincident with the business of market gardening and 
truck growing. Every market gardener, whether he is catering to the demand 
of a small town or to the requirements of a city market, grows a greater or 
smaller acreage of beans for use as string or snap beans. It is his purpose 
to plant the crop so as to secure a succession of pickings from early in the 
season until the plants are destroyed by frost. With the truck grower, how- 
ever, the object is quite different. He depends for his profit upon growing 
a large acreage of a variety which sells well and which will come to market- 
able maturity at a time when the products of the particular zone in which 
he is located have the ascendancy in the market. He does not expect to antici- 
pate this particular period or to reap a benefit after the product of another 
section located farther north and closer to the market than his own becomes 
a competitor. In the one case the crop is grown for a continuous supply 
over a long period ; in the other, the aim is to secure a large product of desir- 
able quality for a short time only. Figure 8 shows a typical field of beans 
as grown at the South for use while green. 


12 Farmers 9 Bulletin 289. 

A third factor entering into the production of beans of this type is the 
canning industry. String beans are a staple canning product, and while 
the canners, located in the cities which are large receiving and distributing 
points for truck crops, depend to some extent upon the purchase of these 
products in the open market, yet each of them attempts to have grown in the 
immediate vicinity of the factory a considerable acreage of each of the staple 
products canned by that factory. As a result of this practice, beans are 
grown to some extent exclusively for canning purposes, but not to the extent 
that tomatoes, peas, and corn are grown. 


Beans adapt themselves to a wide diversity of soils and climate. In fact, 
garden beans, because they are of rapid growth and reach marketable ma- 
turity within a very short time after the seeds have been planted, can be used 
at certain periods of the year in localities where they can not be successfully 

l 7. — Map of the United States showing where dry beans are commercially grown. 

grown as a staple field crop for dry beans. Because of this adaptation of the 
plant, truck growers along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, from Texas and 
Florida northward, are enabled to produce a marketable crop of this vegetable 
by taking advantage of that portion of the season best suited to its growth. 
The statement just made in regard to the adaptation of this crop to various 
soils is emphatically brought out by studying the types of soils upon which 
it is successfully grown from southern Florida to Maine. 

The sandy soils of Florida, sandy loams of the Carolinas, Norfolk sandy 
loam, gravelly loams, and the clay loams of the States north of New Jersey 
all produce satisfactory crops of garden beans when care in the selection of 
varieties and in the use of fertilizers is exercised. In general it may be said 
that climate or season is as great a factor in determining the yield and profit 
from the cultivation of garden beans as is soil. 

Preparation of the soil.— The bean is a hoe crop, and for that reason demands 
a soil free from obstructions to cultivation — one which is quick and responsive 
and contains an abundance of available plant food. The preparation should 



be such as will enable seeds to germinate quickly; that is, so fine that when 
the seeds are planted the soil shall come closely in contact with the seeds and 
insure quick germination. Mechanically the soil should be fine, retentive of 
moisture, and capable of being compacted, yet light enough to permit culti- 
vation immediately after showers and rains, so that heavy crusts will not form 
and retard the germination and growth of the plant. 

For the reception of the seed the soil should be thoroughly plowed and har- 
rowed with an implement which shall fine and at the same time compact it. 
The depth to which the soil should be cultivated must be determined by ex- 
perience. It is not wise to plow the land more deeply for beans than for 
other truck crops. As a general principle, however, soils used for market 
garden or truck purposes should be plowed deeply and pulverized thoroughly, 
so as to maintain a seed bed from 8 to 10 inches in depth. 


While beans are quick-growing and early-maturing plants requiring an abun- 
dance of available plant food in the soil, yet, because of their family relations, 

Fig. 8. — A typical field of bertiis Eftvlfp to iHi" ^outii ftir itw white flreim. 

being legumes, they make the soil better for having been grown upon it. They 
are nitrogen-gathering plants, and for this reason require only a small percent- 
age of this element in any fertilizer used upon them. While heavy applications 
of fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash are used by 
truck growers in the production of beans, as a rule such fertilizers should be 
relatively richer in phosphoric acid and potash than in nitrogen. The pro- 
duction of garden beans for snap or string beans, however, demands a larger 
percentage of immediately available nitrogen than does the production of field 
beans for the dry grain, as in the former case the crop occupies the land a 
shorter time and therefore gives it less opportunity to provide itself with a 
supply of nitrogen from the atmosphere. The fertilizer, if used in the form of 
commercial fertilizer, may be distributed broadcast over the area occupied by 
the crop with a grain drill or a fertilizer distributer, or it may be scattered 


Farmers' Bulletin 289. 

along the row at the time the seeds are sown by one of the many types of seed 
drill haying a fertilizer attachment. 


Garden beans, like field beans, may be planted either in hills or in drills. 
The customary practice, however, is to plant the seeds in drills so that they 
shall fall 2 or 4 inches apart in rows far enough apart to admit of cultivation 
with either one or two horse implements. Because of their peculiar habit of 
germination — the elongation of the part between the root and the seed leaves, 
called the hypocotyl — the seed leaves or cotyledons are lifted out of the soil. 
A large expenditure of energy on the part of the plant is necessary to accom- 
plish this, and the more compacted the soil and the deeper the seed is planted 
the more time and energy are required in accomplishing this result. It is 
evident, therefore, that the shallower the beans can be planted without retard- 
ing satisfactory germination, the, better. 

Upon thoroughly fine and compacted soils the seeds are planted from 1$ to 
2 inches deep. Shallower planting does not as a rule give as satisfactory 
germination as planting within the range above mentioned. 

While garden beans are planted in extensive areas they are, nevertheless, 
frequently used as a catch crop between other plants, such as squashes and 
cucumbers. The bean, being a quick-growing plant, matures its crop and is 
out Of the way before the entire area is demanded by the companion crop. 
In addition to the value of the crop secured from the beans, it is claimed that 
they act beneficially as a windbreak to shelter the tender vines of the cucum- 
ber during their early life. Beans also serve to increase the income from areas 
upon which the most intensive types of truck farming are conducted. Upon 
such an area, where a fall and a spring crop of lettuce are grown, beans are 
planted between the lettuce plants just before they reach marketable size, so 
that about the time the lettuce is removed the area will be occupied by the 
young beans. It not infrequently happens that the catch crop will defray the 
expenses of growing the main crop, a matter of great importance in intensive 
agricultural operations. 

Quantity of seed necessary. — The seed required to plant an acre of beans 
varies with the style of planting, 10 to 12 quarts being required where 3 or 4 
seeds are placed together in hills 18 inches apart with the rows 30 inches apart, 
while 1 bushel to 1| bushels are needed for scattering the seeds with 2 to 3 
inches between them in drills 30 inches apart. 


After the beans have appeared above the surface of the ground, the sub- 
sequent cultivation should be carried on with implements which stir the surface 
of the soil only and leave it fine, loose, and almost perfectly smooth. To 
accomplish this with horsepower implements it is necessary that they have 
numerous narrow, shallow- working teeth. Cultivators with broad teeth, which 
tear up the earth to the depth of 4 to 6 inches, leave the ground rough, cloddy, 
and uneven, thus exposing a large area to the action of the sun and wind, 
bringing about an undue loss of moisture and indirectly acting to retard the 
growth of the plant, while shallow cultivation with implements having fine 
teeth, stirring the soil to the depth of 2* to 3 inches and leaving the soil fine 
and loose, has a tendency to conserve moisture by preserving a blanket, or 
mulch, of loose earth over the compact water-carrying strata, in which the 
roots of the plants are fixed. This type of cultivation is of decided importance 
and value in connection with the cultivation of all quick-growing crops which 
require an abundant supply of moisture for their development. 



As the plants become large and heavy, it is advisable at the last cultivation 
to use winged teeth upon the cultivator in order to throw a small quantity of 
soil against the stem of the plant to assist in supporting it and for the purpose 
of covering the root slightly more than it was normally covered by practicing 
level culture. 


From the nature of the product the harvesting of garden beans for use as 
string or snap beans must necessarily be done by hand. Their extensive culture 
is therefore restricted to areas in which an abundant labor supply which can 
be commanded at short notice is available. The importance of this is sug- 
gested by the extent of the area shown in Figure 8, as well as by the number 
of laborers shown in Figure 9. 

The market gardener, depending upon a limited labor supply, in a region 
where the wage is high, can not afford to cultivate extensive areas of string 
beans. The trucking district along the Atlantic coast from Georgia northward 
to Washington is favored by an abundance of colored labor which has, through 
many years, been trained in this class of work. The ample supply of this 

Fig. 9. — Harvesting snap beans. 

labor, while it is not highly efficient, permits the harvesting of the crop at a 
reasonable compensation, thus allowing extensive areas of string beans to be 
grown at a satisfactory profit to the planter. It is customary to harvest string 
beans by the measure, most growers using a bushel basket as the unit for 

After the beans are picked they are carried to a convenient sorting table, 
either in the open or under shelter, where they are looked over, all diseased 
and broken beans rejected, and the baskets uniformly filled and shaken down 
preparatory to covering them for shipment. The method of assorting beans is 
shown in Figure 10. As is suggested by this illustration, string beans are 
usually shipped in bushel or half-bushel baskets of the Delaware type. These 
baskets are made of thin staves, have circular heads and covers, and are 
usually reenforced with wooden or wire hoops. A ventilated cover is also 
provided, which is held in place by wire fasteners. After being assorted and 
packed in these baskets, the beans are transported, if only a short distance, 
by freight or express without refrigeration ; but if shipped long distances they 
are sometimes placed in refrigerator cars and shipped by freight. 

When packed in baskets of this character great care should be exercised to 
keep the beans from becoming moist, and their storage in cars or rooms where 
they will heat and take up moisture should be avoided. Beans are not so 


Farmers' Bulletin 289. 

liable to injury from heating as peas, but loss sometimes occurs from this 
cause. In the market beans are usually sold by measure rather than by 
weight, although the only satisfactory basis upon which to sell any garden 
vegetable is that of weight. 


Under favorable circumstances the best varieties of beans yield very large 
quantities of pods. It is not unusual to gather 200 bushels of string beans 
from an acre, the price ranging from $2.50 to 50 cents per half-bushel basket 
from early in the season until its close for any particular locality. 


Under the name of Lima beans two distinct types are now recognized: Pole 
Limas and dwarf, or bush Limas. These types are made up from two distinct 
species, known to botanists as Phaseolus lunaius, which includes the Sieva, or 

Fig. 10. — racking and assorting beans in a truck garden. 

Carolina type of Lima beans, and Phaseolus Intuitu*, variety macrocarpus, the 
true Limas of the American garden, which includes hoth types of this bean, 
i. e., the flat, or large-seeded, Lima and the Potato Lima. The pole Lima beans, 
then, are made up from the Sieva, or Carolina Limas, the true Limas, the flat, 
large-seeded Limas, and the Potato Limas. The dwarf Limas are represented 
in the Sieva type by Henderson's Dwarf Lima, in the Potato Limas by 
Kumerle's and Dreer's Dwarf Lima, and in the true Limas by Burpee's Dwarf 
Lima. It will be seen, therefore, that botanically the pole Lima and the dwarf 
Lima can not be separated— that varietal differences alone make the distinc- 
tions which characterize these two groups. 

Lima beans are of very great commercial value, but are not sufficiently ap- 
preciated as a table food because it is not generally known that in a dry state 
they can be used in practically the same manner as are the common beans. 



In reality they are richer and more delicate in flavor than the common beans, 
and can be used in as many different ways. The virtues of these types as green 
beans need only a passing mention, and their value as an accompaniment of 
corn in succotash is well known to every consumer of canned goods, 

Planting. — The common method of handling the Lima bean in the climate 
of the northern tier of States, outside of the irrigated belt, is to plant from 
three to five beans in hills 18 to 36 inches apart, with the rows 3£ to 4 feet 
apart, and after all danger from cold and from insect enemies is past the beans 
are thinned to about three plants to the hill. As the beans are exceedingly 
tender, it is necessary to delay planting in the open until about a week or ten 
days after the time for planting the common garden beans. After the second 
cultivation, when the tendency to climb has manifested itself, the plantation 
is supplied with poles from 5 to 6 feet high, or with a trellis running from end 
to end of the row, which may be made by stretching two or three wires length- 
wise of the row and weaving between them strands of ordinary wool twine. If 
the trellis is employed the beans can be planted in practically continuous rows, 
so that they stand about a foot apart. Toward the northern limit for culti- 
vating this crop, one is fortunate if one-half to two-thirds of the pods which 
set upon the plants mature the seed. Further south the crop is proportionally 

In California and in other irrigated regions where there are well-marked 
wet and dry seasons, the dry season, accompanied by heavy fogs, occurring 
during the summer months, it is possible to cultivate Lima beans somewhat 
as follows : Upon moderately rich, somewhat sandy valley land, cultivation 
can be carried out by planting the beans as soon as all danger from rains has 
ceased and the plantation will remain dry except for irrigation. If there has 
not been sufficient winter rain to thoroughly moisten the land it should be well 
watered and allowed to dry to a good cultural condition before planting. Seed 
can then be planted in hills about 3£ or 4 feet apart each way, or in drills, the 
beans scattered about a foot apart in rows 4 feet apart. After the beans have 
germinated it may be necessary to cultivate them once or twice with a sweep 
of some type, to destroy any weeds which may have sprung up from the moist 
ground. All moisture should be withheld and a dust mulch over the surface 
preserved by running a sweep over the plantation once or twice more, and then 
the vines should be allowed to take possession of the territory. This obviates 
the necessity of using poles, and the crop can grow to maturity under these con- 
ditions without irrigation, without cultivation, and without p61es. 

At harvest time a root cutter is passed under the lines of the rows severing 
the roots of the plants, and after the plants have dried and become somewhat 
cured they are thrown into convenient heaps for loading on wagons and are 
allowed to remain in these heaps until near the approach of the rainy season. 
Then they are carried to the threshing floors, where they are beaten out by 
the tramping of animals or by driving over the heap a device somewhat similar 
to the ordinary cutaway harrow. Where Lima beans are grown very exten- 
sively, power threshers of large capacity are used for separating the beans 
from the vines. There is more loss reported from the use of these machines 
than where the old method of tramping them out is followed, but whether 
this is sufficient to justify the slower process of shelling can only be determined 
from actual field tests. 

The dwarf Lima beans, because of their habit of growth, are planted and 
cultivated practically the same as are field beans. They are slightly hardier 
than pole Limas, and for that reason toward the northern limit of the range of 
this crop can be planted somewhat earlier in the season than the pole Limas. 


Farmers' Bulletin 289. 

Cultivation.— The Lima bean is naturally a long-season crop, and in its 
native country is practically a perennial plant ; hence the necessity, in a region 
with a limited growing season, for taking advantage of every factor in soil 
and climate which will tend to shorten the period of growth and hasten 
maturity. It is possible to lengthen the season by artificial means, when 
growing the plant on a limited scale, by planting the seeds in berry boxes or 
on inverted sods in a hotbed or cold frame two or three weeks in advance 
of the regular planting season. The season in the field can be shortened by 
withholding nitrogenous fertilizers, which tend to induce late growth; by sup- 
plying fertilizers like muriate of potash and acid phosphate, which have a 
tendency to hasten maturity, and by selecting what is known as a quick soil — 
one which dries out and warms up earlv in the spring and which, because 
it is normally inclined to be dry, has a tendency to shorten the life cycle of the 
plants growing in it. 


One of the factors which is of great moment in determining the range of 
cultivation of field beans is the bean weevil. This pest is much more destruc- 
tive to beans grown south of the latitude of New York than in areas north of 
this region. The high altitudes of California and of the Allegheny Mountain 
region are exceptions to this general rule. Because of the greater destructive- 
ness of the weevil in southern latitudes, dry beans for seed purposes or for 
table use are not extensively cultivated. As has been pointed out, this crop 
is confined chiefly to northern latitudes and to high altitudes. In the produc- 
tion of string beans, where the product is marketed in an immature condition, 
the weevil does not enter as a factor into the production of the crop. 

The bean, like many other of our valuable economic plants, is subject to 
serious diseases, the most important of which is known as anthracnose. This 
disease is most severe upon the wax-podded types of garden beans, but few of 
the bush beans, whether of the wax or green pod type, are entirely free from 
this trouble. Localities may be comparatively free from it for a number of 
years, but as bean growing becomes more general and extensively engaged in, 
the disease becomes more prevalent and increases in severity. Growers of 
field beans have found that the disease is most destructive to the early planted 
crop, and to partially overcome the loss from its attacks have resorted to 
planting the crop as late in the season as possible. 

While anthracnose can be controlled to a considerable extent by spraying 
with Bordeaux mixture, the expense of the operation, including the cost of 
material and of labor for applying it, is so great as to prohibit its general use 
in the field cultivation of the crop. In market gardens and in restricted 
areas, where beans are sold at very remunerative prices, it may be advanta- 
geous and profitable to treat plants for this disease. The greatest relief from 
this trouble, it is believed, will come from the breeding of disease-resistant 
strains of the desired type of bean.